Russia Is Running Out of Missiles ... or Not

December 15, 2022
Simon Saradzhyan

missileIs Russia running out of precision munitions, such as missiles, in its war against Ukraine? That is the question I posed to some of my professional acquaintances and myself last month, hoping some of us would come up with an accurate answer. Three weeks later, I am still searching for that answer, but my efforts have not been completely in vain. What I have found is that, starting as early as the spring, multiple Western officials and experts have announced that Russia was running out of precision munitions, and yet Russia has continued to use scores of attack missiles, such as Kalibr missiles, well into winter. I have also found that most of these announcers did not specify the kinds of munitions Russia was close to depleting, with one proclaiming that Russia was “running low on everything.” Nor have most of these announcers specified when the exhaustion of Russia’s arsenals could occur. That didn’t stop leading American and European media outlets from repeatedly quoting such announcements,  with most of the media reports I have come across showing no effort to either verify the forecaster’s claims or put them into context (i.e. state whether there have been earlier claims of that kind and whether or not they proved to be correct).

One of the first, if not the first, claim that Russia was running out of precision means of attack was made exactly one month after Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24: Russia is running out of precision guided munitions, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl was quoted as saying by Reuters on March 24. Kahl did not specify when Russia might fully run out of which precision munitions.

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